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Archive for the ‘Must Have Gear’ Category

Oct 29 2015

Threat Assessment

The day before Dale’s running of the Marine Corps Marathon, I thought it a brilliant idea to bring Dale’s large black military backpack for Gabe to carry around during the race. Rain was predicted and it was waterproof. Perfect.

On the morning of the race, I began throwing into the backpack everything that we could possible need or Dale could possibly need or any of the 30,000 runners could possibly need, or any stranger passing by could possibly need.

I packed the bag with eight water bottles, seven cheese-it and pretzel bags, six granola bars, five sharpies, four poster boards, three umbrellas, two Nintendo ds’s, one gallon bag full of candy, Dale’s jacket and gloves, and the poncho liner.

Why? Because I was convinced that I would be sitting for hours with two kids complaining of being “hungry, thirsty, cold, wet, bored, tired…”

We had to go through three security checkpoints on our walk to the start. At one, the irritated guy next to me said, “You’re slowing everybody up with that backpack.”

I put it down to “fear of missing the start.”

At every checkpoint, the backpack came off Gabe’s back and was thoroughly searched. Twice, I sent Gabe running ahead to the checkpoint, because I knew it would take him extra long to get through security.

We watched the start of the race from the Memorial Bridge. It provided a terrific view of the jumpers, the Ospreys, the cannon, the start line. We had no idea which side of the road Dale would run down. I scanned the right, Zeke scanned the left, and Gabe scanned both. Three minutes after the cannon fired, Gabe heard Dale yell at us and saw Dale run by. Zeke and I missed it in the mayhem.

Zeke was disappointed, but I said, “Don’t worry, we’ll see him at the 10 mile mark.”

We walked quickly across the bridge, paid a brief visit to Lincoln, and then walked down Ohio Drive past the water station to just before mile 11. Zeke was tired and sore with foot pain. (He had twisted his ankle playing flag football in PE.) I spread out the poncho liner under a big tree for Zeke to sit on. Gabe set the large black backpack next to him. In the pouring rain, under his umbrella, Zeke began coloring in my motivational sign (“The MCM GOT NOTHIN ON DALE MANRY IT’S 40 HE’S 50.”)

Gabe and I were standing on the sidewalk by the curb ten feet away from the tree, cheering for the wheelies, pushers, and leaders of the race (Go Army!) My phone notified me of Dale’s location, so I told Zeke (who had finished the coloring in while the rain finished the coloring off) that Dale was close. Zeke got up and joined us, leaving the large black backpack by the tree.

I glanced occasionally behind me at the large black backpack to make sure no one snuck up on us and stole it, but mostly I cheered the runners.

Suddenly, the woman next to me yelled, “Look out! There is a car coming behind you!”

I turned to see a large black SUV stop and two big men in kevlar with a bomb sniffing dog get out and move towards the large black backpack. Zeke got to the bag first. “It’s our bag!” I yelled.

“There’s Dad!” Gabe screamed. I whirled around to take Dale’s picture while Zeke got lectured by two scary men about the necessity of keeping your bags with you at all times.

(Someone has to take one for the team.)

Dale ran on, the black SUV backed up, and Zeke mournfully said, “I missed Dad.”

I showed Zeke the picture of Dale from the camera. Surprisingly, it didn’t help improve his mood.

(“What were you thinking?”…As Dines so aptly put it when I relayed this story to her.)

The idea that it might not be a smart choice to have my dark curly haired and bearded teenage son who wears a forbidding countenance carry a large black backpack to a marathon in Washington D.C. suddenly dawned on me.

As we cut through the FDR memorial on our way to mile 15, I continued to reassure Zeke that he would for sure see his Dad at the next spot – as long as we weren’t hustled into a black SUV and carted off.

We stood in the median of 15th street and cheered again the runners in front of Dale. “There’s box head guy!” Gabe shouted. “Dad should be coming soon.” We rang our cowbells shouted and cheered. Thankfully, this time, Zeke saw his Dad.

Next, we were supposed to move to mile 20, but I got all confused and followed the runners down 15th towards the Washington Monument. The band playing “Circle of Life” spurred me on. Eventually, I knew my direction was all wrong as was the band’s next choice of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

When we got back to where we started, I could see the runners crossing the 14th street bridge above us. We attempted to cut through to 14th street by walking next to the bureau of engraving and printing, but the sidewalk dead ended. Thinking my mistake might cost us seeing Dale, I sent Gabe at a sprint back out on 15th street to find another way through. Zeke and I limped behind. At the far side of the building, there was a vehicle entrance that said, “Do Not Enter.” I started jogging around the lift gate.

“Mom, I don’t think we’re supposed to go through here,” Zeke said. (He was trying to avoid another encounter with Scary Men in Kevlar.) “Run, son, run!” I shouted. “You’re small. When they grab me, you can squiggle through and see your Dad.”

We made it to 14th street without being arrested and heard the pounding of the most fabulous drum line ever. We turned, and jogged our way onto the bridge, but Gabe was no where in sight. I pulled out my phone to call and ask where he was and noticed I had 5 missed calls from him. I called, “Where are you? I can’t see you on the bridge.” I asked.

“You’re on the bridge!?” He yelled. “I just ran 6 blocks with this backpack on and you’re ahead of me!?” (He had not taken the cut through, but had run down to Independence, over to 14th street, and up to the bridge. I could hear the awesome drum line pounding in the background.)

We cheered again the runners in front of Dale – including the box head guy. We clanged and clanged the cowbells as Dale made it to the 20 mile mark. Dale kept on moving. I could tell that he was hurting. Gabe, Zeke, and I were exhausted.

“He has 6.2 miles to go. There’s no way he’s going to run faster than 10 minutes a mile. We’ve got an hour to make it back across the Memorial Bridge,” I said.

We trudged around the Tidal Basin and back up Ohio Drive. As we approached the grass hill to get up to the Memorial Bridge, Zeke could walk no longer. “Give me the backpack and put Zeke on your back,” I told Gabe.

With Zeke on his back and the backpack on mine we jogged up the grassy hill.

“Gabe’s gonna drop me. He’s gonna drop me!” Zeke shouted.

“He’s not gonna drop you!” I yelled. (I put my head down, jogged the slowest jog ever and thought, “Whose brilliant idea was it to bring this heavy backpack?”)

Two thirds of the way up the hill, Gabe stepped in a large hole, fell, and Zeke tumbled to the ground.

We staggered up onto the bridge laughing and crying, moaning and groaning. “Here, Gabe, take the camera and run up to security. Get to the finish. Take a picture of Dad. Zeke and I might not make it,” I said.

Gabe took off running. Zeke and I stumbled on. Zeke looked longingly at the pedicab. When we eventually arrived at the security checkpoint, Gabe was holding up the line with the inspection of his large black backpack. Finally, they cleared him and he raced on. Zeke and I made it quickly through security. We met Gabe near mile 26. We arrived 7 minutes before Dale.

The final photo, the trudge to the meet-up area, the walking downhill – knowing we would have to walk uphill – because the meet up banners are alphabetical and our last name starts with M, then the cheers and the smiles and the giant medal hanging around Dale’s neck.

He did it! We did it!


May 31 2008

Drop Leg Holster

Posted by Dale @ 8:45 pm in Deployment,Must Have Gear Print This Post Print This Post

Another item that I couldn’t live without during this deployment is the holster for my 9mm handgun. I bought the Vapor model from Spec Ops. It is a drop leg holster that fits my needs exactly. I see many people wearing the underarm holsters all throughput the FOB. The problem with those is that you can’t wear them with body armor. So you need a separate holster to wear when you put on your IBA. With the drop leg holster, I can grab my IBA, and I’m ready to go.

I added the single magazine holder to meet GEN Petraeus’ requirement to always have a magazine of ammunition with your weapon. I have additional magazines of ammunition in other pouches on my IBA. All in all, a holster that meets your needs is a must.

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Nov 07 2007

Uvex XC and WileyX Sunglasses

Posted by Dale @ 10:12 pm in Deployment,Must Have Gear Print This Post Print This Post

A good pair of sunglasses is essential to survival here in Iraq. Actually, I have found that 2 different pairs of sunglasses are better. I prefer one type for day to day FOB life, while I use a different type for going outside the wire. I have a pair of the Uvex XC that I was issued while preparing for deployment at Ft. Benning, GA. I wear them everyday in and around the FOB. But when I head off the FOB, I switch to the WileyX which I bought at the military clothing sales store at Ft. Belvoir, VA. The WileyX sunglasses have a much tighter, closer fit to the face. They also have more of a goggle-type setup, while the Uvex XCs are a single lens system. So the WileyX pair does a better job of keeping out the blowing sand. Both pairs of sunglasses came with interchangable lenses. In limited visibility, I can put in the clear lenses, so I can still have some eye protection even when it’s dark outside.

Here’s a picture of me wearing my WileyXs while flying in a Blackhawk.

Sep 19 2007

The Spork

Posted by Dale @ 9:40 pm in Deployment,Must Have Gear Print This Post Print This Post

This is my first post in a new category – Must Have Deployment Gear.  No matter what Mugs may say, I don’t collect a lot of personal field gear. I will admit to possessing an astounding array of boots and gloves, but if your hands or feet are uncomfortable, you’ll be miserable the whole time you’re in the field! Anyway, I do believe that the right tool can make all the difference.

Someone recently sent me a collection of comics from Bob on the FOB. One of the best is titled Geardo. According to Bob on the FOB, a Geardo is “someone who spends at least 50% of each paycheck (before taxes) on the latest & greatest gear, just to have the latest and greatest gear, regardless of whether or not that gear will actually help the wearer perform his/her duties.” See Geardo and other comics at

The first item in my Must Have Deployment Gear list is the spork. For my birthday this year, Mugs and the kids bought me various small pieces of deployment gear. My spork is one of those items.

My Spork

This awesome spork is from a company called Light My Fire.  If you would like to purchase your very own Light My Fire spork, you can find it online at Campmor.

When I finished my run tonight, I stretched for 10 minutes. Make sure you tell Lay Fong that I’m still stretching; I don’t want to get in trouble again. Anyway, after showering, I used my spork to eat a bowl of Smart Start cereal for dinner. I know in my last post I heaped praises on the DFAC, and now I’m writing about eating cereal for dinner in my hooch. Technically, it was DFAC food, since I brought the cereal and milk from the DFAC. But that’s not the point of this post. This was all made possible by the spork. I carry the spork in one of the cargo pockets on my ACUs and am ready to eat at a moments notice!